Posts Tagged ‘Neokolonialismus’

Sierra Leone: “Warum geben wir den Weißen unser Land?” (Radio-Tipp)

Mittwoch, Oktober 17th, 2012

“Lebensgefühl und neuer Kolonialismus in Sierra Leone

Von Agnes Steinbauer

“Sweet Salone” nennen die Sierra Leoner ihre westafrikanische Heimat. “Süß” ist das Leben dort aber nur für die wenigsten. Der Alltag in der Hauptstadt Freetown ist hart. Regelmäßig brechen Strom- und Wasserversorgung zusammen. Transportmittel funktionieren selten und sind für viele unbezahlbar.

Gute Jobs sind rar. In ländlichen Regionen gibt es weniger Slums, dafür sind Großinvestoren auf “Land-Grabbing-Tour”. Sie kaufen zu Spottpreisen Grund und Boden und entziehen vielen Kleinbauern die Existenzgrundlage.

Wer “Glück” hat, bekommt eine Stelle als schlecht bezahlter Landarbeiter. Zehn Jahre nach einem brutalen Bürgerkrieg und kurz vor den Parlamentswahlen in der jungen Demokratie fühlen sich viele Menschen erneut verkauft und verraten.”

Sender:     Deutschlandfunk

Sendedatum: 19.10.2012

Sendezeit:   19:15 – 20:00 Uhr

 

(Quelle: Deutschlandfunk.)

Afrika: Ausplünderung mit Hilfe von IWF & Weltbank?

Donnerstag, August 26th, 2010

“Is Africa still being looted?

World Bank dodges its own research

By Patrick Bond


African elites, together with the West and now China, are still making Africans progressively poorer, thanks to the extraction of raw materials

August 15, 2010 – The continent’s own elites, together with the West and now China, are still making Africans progressively poorer, thanks to the extraction of raw materials. Reinvestment is negligible and the prices, royalties and taxes paid are inadequate to compensate the wasting away of Africa’s natural wealth. Anti-extraction campaigns by (un)civil society are the only hope for a reversal of these neocolonial relations.

Though it’s easy to prove, even using the World Bank’s main study of natural resource economics, the looting allegation is controversial. When I made it during a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) interview last week, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa Shanta Devarajan, immediately contradicted me, claiming (twice) that I am not in command of the “facts”.

Here’s how it went:

Patrick Bond: Africa is suffering neocolonialism, and that means the basic trend of exporting raw materials, and cash crops, minerals, petroleum, has gotten worse. And that’s really left Africa poorer per person in much of the continent, than even at independence. The idea that there’s steady growth in Africa is very misleading, and it really represents the abuse of economic concepts by politicians, by economists, who factor out society and the environment. And it’s mainly a myth, because, really, the extraction of non-renewable resources – those resources will never be available for future generations. And there’s very little reinvestment, and very little broadening of the economy into an industrial project or even a services economy.

CBC: Mr Devarajan, how would you respond to that view?

Shanta Devarajan: First, I just want to correct one of the facts, which is that the continent is not poorer per person. GDP per capita is not lower today than it was ten to fifteen years ago. In fact, it is considerably higher.

Here, Devarajan abuses the discussion about African poverty by using the gross domestic product (GDP) measure, even though just seconds earlier I had warned against doing so. African economies suffer extreme distortions caused by the export of irreplaceable minerals, petroleum and hard-wood timber. Were he honest, Devarajan would confess that GDP calculates such exports as a solely positive process (a credit), without a corresponding debit on the books of a country’s natural capital.

Seeking a less-biased wealth accounting – i.e., by factoring in society and the environment so as to calculate a country’s “genuine savings” from year to yearwe find that Africa gets progressively poorer. This was demonstrated in even the World Bank’s own book, Where is the Wealth of Nations?, published four years ago (and still available on
the World Bank website).

According to the book’s authors, “Genuine saving provides a much broader indicator of sustainability by valuing changes in natural resources, environmental quality, and human capital, in addition to the traditional measure of changes in produced assets. Negative genuine saving rates imply that total wealth is in decline.”

The researchers are conservative in their assumptions, but once they factor in society and the environment, Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, fell from a GDP in 2000 of $297 per person to negative $210 in genuine savings, mainly because the value of oil extracted was subtracted its net wealth.

Even the most industrialised African country, South Africa, suffers from resource curse: instead of a per person GDP of $2837 in 2000, the more reasonable way to measure wealth results in genuine savings declining to negative $2 per person that year. From 2001, the problem became even more acute thanks to the delisting of the largest corporations from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which added not just the outflow of mineral wealth, but also of profits and dividends that in earlier years would have been retained in South Africa.

(South Africa’s president, the African National Congress’ Jacob Zuma, approved these policies and he is still relaxing exchange controls, thus permitting further wealth outflow. It was the height of United Nations incompetence or irony that Zuma was named as co-chair of Ban Ki-moon’s new panel on global sustainability, “tasked with finding ways to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change and ensuring that economic development is environmentally friendly”. And after the United Nations climate summit in Cancun fails in December 2010, a year later Zuma will host the crucial Johannesburg follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol, whose targets of 5 per cent emissions reduction expire in 2012. What might we expect? Beholden as he is to mining/smelting capital, with his son and nephew seeking mineral-tycoon status, Zuma signed the inadequate US-backed “Copenhagen Accord” last December. But this mainly confirmed that his climate-vulnerable kin in rural Zululand will suffer so that Melbourne and London shareholders of BHP Billiton and Anglo American can continue receiving the world’s cheapest electricity, from South Africa’s rapidly expanding coal-fired power generators. Just so you are warned.)

As commodity prices soared from 2002-08, the outflow of wealth was amplified. But dating to the independence of so many countries over the past five decades, the story is the same: Africa looted in a manner that even World Bank environmental staff are openly confessing, even if Devarajan has (consciously or subsconsciously) ignored their research. Hence it is misleading to the point of mischievousness for Devarajan to contradict my assertion that Africans are getting poorer.
The interview then turned to public policies associated with the looting of Africa.

CBC: The World Bank gets a lot of heat for your structural readjustment programme from some quarters. And that is when you offer to countries interest-free loans but they’re contingent on some pretty severe austerity measures that some people say can be counterproductive because they hurt the economies in question more than they help them. And you’ve been criticised, notably, by economists like Patrick Bond and I’d like you to listen one more time to something he’s told us.

Patrick Bond: The World Bank and also the International Monetary Fund, they sort of fooled us, in 2008-2009, because they seemed to shift their ideology away from a very hard-core agenda of promoting markets above everything else. And for a time it seems they were promoting government deficits and a Keynesian strategy: government should step in when the private sector fails. But now it seems like it’s back to business as usual, namely export orientation and austerity. And the World Bank, led by President Robert Zoellick, who had come from the Bush Administration – he worked for Enron and for Goldman Sachs – this sort of leadership, and the Northern orientation and the banker mentality, means that the only way forward is to get away from these institutions, maybe to default on their debt, to kick them out of the country. And Latin America provides a good model for doing both of those things.

CBC: And in fact some Latin American countries, Argentina, successfully told the institutions like yourself and the IMF to take a hike, and in fact it ended up doing them a lot of good. So how do you respond to someone like Patrick Bond?

Shanta Devarajan: Oh, I think again that we have to look at the facts. There’s no question that the structural adjustment policies of the 1980s and early 1990s received a lot of criticism. But then ask the question, “what changed?” As I was saying, the growth has accelerated since the 1990s. We can’t hide from that fact. And you look at what changed. And it’s
that these countries adopted exactly the Washington Consensus policies in the mid-1990s, the African countries. The difference is that they did it out of their own accord, out of domestic political consensus, rather than imposed from Washington or Paris or London. And I think that’s the point that people are not recognising, that the actual policies that are generating the growth, are actually very similar to what was criticised in the structural adjustment era.

Again, African GDP growth may have accelerated as commodity prices rose, but Africa became poorer once we calculate the net wealth effect and genuine savings. Devarajan can’t hide from that fact.

To disguise this by saying that structural adjustment did not work before the mid-1990s because it was “imposed” by Devarajan’s colleagues, but did work after the mid-1990s because it was adopted through a “domestic political consensus”, is the most bizarre claim I’ve ever heard about African macroeconomics. There has never been a political consensus to structurally adjust Africa, aside from the permanent problem of unpatriotic elites who are more closely allied with Washington, Paris, London, Brussels and Beijing string pullers than with their subjects (a problem which in his 1961 book The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon so eloquently brought to our attention).

The World Bank’s 2006 book mentions one obvious policy conclusion, learning from a country with petroleum resources that did not fall victim to resource curse:

“Norway has used the flow accounts for energy and greenhouse gas emissions to assess a policy that many countries are considering: changing the structure of taxes to increase taxes on emissions and resource use.”

But liberalisation imposed by the World Bank’s lending staff does precisely the opposite. This is the sort of schizophrenia we have come to expect from World Bank researchers who arrive at commonsense “talk-left” conclusions, such as that extracting resources from Africa leaves the continent poorer. But it is not surprising that Devarajan and World Bank operational staff “walk right” when it counts, in interviews with gullible journalists like CBC’s Mike Finnerty (who failed to follow up on either of Devarajan’s whoppers) and when imposing neoliberal policies on wretched African elites.

In this context, the only encouraging signs are the myriad of challenges to extractive industries by activists who often put their bodies on the line in sites of sustained state and corporate violence like the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights watchdogs struggle to document the murder of approximately 5 million people, Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond mines, South Africa’s Limpopo and Northwest Province platinum fields and the Eastern Cape’s titanium-rich Xolobeni beaches, the Niger Delta’s oil-soaked creeks and Chad’s oilfields, Firestone’s Liberian rubber plantations, Lesotho’s dams supplying Johannesburg’s hedonistic water consumers, and other dam displacement zones including Gibe in Ethiopia, Mphanda Nkuwa in Mozambique and Bujagali in Uganda, to name just a few.

Because World Bank officials can be counted on to ignore their own research and hence continue promoting non-renewable resource exports; because this arrangement suits multinational corporations and donor agencies; and because African elites will continue taking this advice (often with sweetener bribes as was the case of the African National Congress’ role in the Medupi power plant controversy, funded by the World Bank’s largest-ever project loan, for $3.75 billion, in April 2010), Africa will grow progressively poorer.

The African networks of civil society which promote “publish what you pay” and other gambits for transparency, participation and human rights should finally come to the realisation that this system of looting is not going to be reformed under the prevailing balance of power, and that much more forceful resistance to extraction is required – and is underway.


Patrick Bond
Patrick Bond is political economist and activist who directs the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. He is the co-editor (with Rehana Dada) of Trouble in the air: Global warming and the privatised atmosphere (TNI/Centre for Civil Society, 2007)

 

(Quelle: TNI.)

Demokratische Republik Kongo: Ein Befreiungskampf, der nicht enden will

Donnerstag, Juli 1st, 2010

Congo’s Quest for Liberation Continues

By Bahati Ntama Jacques and Beth Tuckey

 


Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Flagge der DR Kongo

Congo has long been the focus of resource exploitation. The first era of colonization in Africa, beginning in the mid-1880s, was most pronounced in this central African country. Belgium’s King Leopold brutalized the population in his quest for rubber and riches, leaving a legacy of natural resource exploitation by white Europeans in the heart of Africa.

Today, at the 50th anniversary of Congo’s independence, the country continues to be a source of wealth for the world, yet the Congolese people live in poverty. Like many African nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is suffering under this new era of neocolonialism, where natural resources belong not to those who live on the land but to those with power and access to global markets.

The pursuit of true independence and liberation in Congo will continue until foreign nations cease their policies of exploitation.

History of Violence

When Patrice Lumumba began agitating for independence in early 1960, there was great hope that Congolese people would benefit from the resources of their land, lifting the country out of poverty and into an era of prosperity. Instead, after nearly three months in office as Congo’s first elected prime minister, Lumumba was deposed in a coup and four months later killed in a plot orchestrated by the Belgian government with the complicity of the United States. Mobutu Sese Seko, a staunch opponent of communism, took power in a CIA-backed coup and became one of Africa’s most brutal dictators. He drove Congo — which he named Zaire — into ruin.

In 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo and forced Mobutu to flee, while a new leader, Laurent Kabila, rose to power. Since then, eastern Congo has been mired in conflict, overrun by rebel groups and government militias, each of which seeks control of Congo’s vast wealth. It’s estimated that between 1998 and 2007, 5.4 million people died in DRC as a direct or indirect result of conflict. Meanwhile, the world has come to depend on minerals such as tungsten, tin, and coltan, used in electronics and sophisticated weaponry, which come primarily from the Congo. Western love for the Congo has always been for its resources, never its people, which explains the lack of any genuine interest in helping to build Congo’s state capacity. 

Lack of transparency or regulation in the mining industry in Congo makes it nearly impossible to prevent the sale of conflict minerals in electronic products. And although many companies have expressed interest in disclosing their supply chain information, tracing which minerals come from the conflict zone in eastern Congo remains a significant challenge.

In the 110th session of Congress, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Conflict Minerals Trade Act “to improve transparency and reduce trade in conflict minerals,” and Sen. Samuel Brownback (R-KS) introduced the companion Senate legislation “to require annual disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission of activities involving columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, and wolframite from the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Also in May, Brownback was able to attach a related amendment into the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which passed the Senate and is being reconciled with the House version of financial reform. While an admirable start considering the inadequate U.S. government attention paid to Congo, such legislation is only a small part of a more holistic policy shift needed to address the economic colonization of DRC.

America: Part of the Problem?

The United States can do much more to promote true security and prosperity in Congo.  However, time and time again the United States has been part of the problem. In 2008, the United States was among a group of nations that negotiated the premature and hasty integration of former rebel forces of the Rwanda-backed rebel group, the National Council for the Defense of the People (CNDP) into the Congolese national army. These Rwandan troops, as part of the national army, today represent a serious threat to sustainable peace in eastern Congo.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Rwanda relationship continues to be very problematic as far as peace and stability in Congo is concerned. From 2000 to 2009, the United States provided $1.034 billion to Rwanda when its government was occupying large territories in Congo and plundering Congolese resources. While Washington argues that it never intended to aid the Rwandan invasion in the Congo, U.S. financial support possibly helped the Rwandan government secure money within its budget to wage the deadly war. 

As a senator, Barack Obama introduced legislation, ultimately signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush, that requires the U.S. Secretary of State to “withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961…other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

But it wasn’t the United States, ironically, that took action. Sweden and the Netherlands, after looking at the evidence of Rwandan involvement in the conflict in the Congo made available by a UN panel of experts’ report in 2008, threatened to withhold their financial support to Rwanda. This action, which drew international attention to the issue, held the Rwandan government accountable by requesting an immediate withdrawal of its troops from the Congo. Instead of following suit, the United States participated in the misleading and failed integration of former CNDP forces into the Congolese army. So far, the Obama administration shows no sign of implementing the legislation that Sen. Obama worked so hard to promote. The key to the U.S. relationship with Rwanda is rooted in access to Congo’s resources. 

Congo as Heart

All governments must enact strict laws against the import of products that fuel conflict, use child labor, or otherwise support human rights violations in Africa. Companies should also be forced to pay fines and reparations to communities they have damaged in the creation of their goods.

But at the same time, and equally as important, governments must work to engage Africa in the global economy in a way that encourages human security. Although coltan and tungsten fuel deadly conflict in eastern Congo, they also provide local people with jobs and some means of income. The Congolese government, with the support of the international community, should ensure that those local people reap the true benefits of their labor, which requires strict attention to worker’s rights. In this way, Congo and the outside world can partner to advance resource sovereignty and local ownership.

 

Congo is the heart of Africa. Yet, after 50 years of political independence, it still does not beat on its own. Nor does it sustain the health of other African counties. Lumumba once famously said, “free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese.” The liberation of Congo — which is a key part of the liberation of all of Africa — requires that people in countries that profit from Congo’s wealth stand in solidarity with those who rightfully own it. That means, most importantly, taking action as citizens and pushing governments to create more responsible policies toward central Africa regarding the use of its natural resources.

Bahati Ntama Jacques, a Congolese national, is policy analyst at the Africa Faith & Justice Network in Washington, DC. Beth Tuckey, former associate director at Africa Faith & Justice Network, is currently an executive intern with Africa Action in Washington, DC. They are both contributors to Foreign Policy In Focus.

 

Recommended Citation:

Bahati Ntama Jacques and Beth Tuckey, “Congo’s Quest for Liberation Continues” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, June 30, 2010)

 

(Quelle: FPIF.)

 

Siehe auch:

DR Congo Marks 50 Troubled Years of Independence

 

Nigeria: Massive Kritik an der BBC von Literatur-Nobelpreisträger Wole Soyinka

Donnerstag, April 29th, 2010

“Wole Soyinka attacks BBC portrayal of Lagos ‘pit of degradation’

Nigerian playwright derides Welcome to Lagos, shot in teeming slums, as colonialist and patronising

A BBC documentary series set in slum areas of Lagos has been branded ‘condescending’ and ‘colonialist’ by Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate and one of Nigeria’s most famous living writers.

Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Soyinka said that Welcome to Lagos, the BBC2 observational documentary which follows various people in poor areas of the city, was ‘the most tendentious and lopsided programme’ he had ever seen.

The series of three programmes, which concludes tomorrow, follows groups of people living in three impoverished areas: a rubbish dump, the Lagos lagoon and the city’s beach area. The narration from the black British actor David Harewood overtly praises their resourceful resilience.

Welcome to Lagos has been well received by most UK critics and featured in the In praise of… slot on the Guardian’s leader page.

Soyinka, a world respected writer and activist who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, said the programme displayed ‘the worst aspects of colonialist and patronising’ attitudes to Africa.

The 75-year-old, who splits his time between the US and his home outside Lagos, added: ‘There was no sense of Lagos as what it is – a modern African state. What we had was jaundiced and extremely patronising. It was saying ‘Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation’.

‘There was this colonialist idea of the noble savage which motivated the programme. It was patronising and condescending. It surprised me because it came from the BBC which is supposed to have some sort of reputation. It was not worthy of the BBC.’

His remarks were echoed by the government of Lagos, one of 36 states in Nigeria’s federation. Opeyemi Bamidele, the city’s commissioner for information and strategy, has submitted a formal complaint to the BBC calling on the corporation to commission an alternative series to ‘repair the damage we believe this series has caused to our image’.

Soyinka’s work includes Death and the King’s Horseman, the celebrated 1976 play about colonialist attitudes, and King Baabu, a 2001 satire on African dictatorships.

He has been an outspoken critic of how his own country is run, most notably in 1967 when he was arrested for trying to broker peace during the Nigerian civil war. He has also been an implacable opponent of corruption, was sentenced to death by General Sani Abacha, the Nigerian dictator, in the early 1990s, and has spoken out against the regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (…)”

Weiterlesen…

(Quelle: Guardian.)